Friday, 17 April 2009

Banana Republic Britian

When governments are going under and desperately trying to cling to power, they invariably become more authoritarian in their efforts to stay in power. It's just the way it is, always has been and always will be. It's a truism.

Think of every banana republic despotic regime just before they fall apart: free media is curtailed to prevent criticism, the rich's assets are seized to keep the regime funded, known opponents are all arrested to take the leadership of any uprising out of circulation, curfews are imposed to prevent civil disorder and facilitate state control etc. Familiar concepts, but never in Britain, right?

Well, in a first world, advanced liberal democratic way, we are seeing just this in NuLab Britain.

For the usual banana republic distraction techniques to stop the people from focusing on how incompetent the government really is, read the endless 'initiativitis' so beloved of NuLab, previous commitments reheated for today's press deadlines.

For the usual tough posturing showing how in control the dictatorship is, read the relentless diet of illiberal legislation to target those NuLab don't like.

Instead of capturing the radio/TV station every banana republic seems to have, we see NuLab spin doctors constantly bullying journalists to try to control the media agenda.

Instead of appointing loyal supporters to control key organisations NuLab has politicised the civil service.

Instead of spreading lies about their opposition, NuLab has......oh hold on, they got caught before they could do that.

The normal rounding up of political opponents on trumped up charges has morphed into pushing the police to arrest whistle blowers and their opposition accomplices.

Banana republic brazen lies about 'how brilliantly El Presidente is leading us in these difficult times' - remember Comical Ali - have been replaced by Gordy's outrageous spin informing us how brilliantly we are prepared for economic recession (not according to the IMF or OECD which say in fact we are the most vulnerable).

We are living in a NuLab banana republic. Thank God it's almost run out of time.


Been offline for two days. Broken laptop. Apols. Now back.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Words of the Day

"Now, you may say that politics has ever been a mucky business, with journalists willingly allowing themselves to be used in the pursuit of the political vendettas of Westminster; but what is striking about the methods used by Brown's courtiers is that they never, ever, employ arguments of substance, still less principle, in their attacks against those who are deemed to have taken an incorrect position. They only go for the man, never the ball."

Dominic Lawson, The Independent

Selected Reagan Quotes

Whilst UK politics is down in the gutter, here are a few truisms from the great man for light relief. Some are highly relevant to this Easter's shenanigans.

'Here's my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose.'

'The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'

'The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so.'

'Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.'

'I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress.'

'The taxpayer: that's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination.'

'Government is like a baby: an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.'

'The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program.'

'It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.'

'Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: if it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.'

'Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed, there are many rewards; if you disgrace yourself, you can always write a book.'

'No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is as formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.'

'If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.’

Goody Goody

You will recall my views on Jade Goody and Jack Tweed (here).

Jack Tweed has been jailed for 12 weeks for assaulting a taxi driver today. My case proven, methinks.

Mad Teachers

So. Let me get this right.

1. The country is in the depth of an historic recession

2. Unemployment has passed the 2 million mark

3. Unemployment is widely predicted to hit over 3 million by the year end

4. After profligate spending by Gordy the country is teetering on technical bankruptcy

5. Many independent economists are predicting we are likely to need a bailout from the IMF

At this very moment, the teaching unions, after 12 years of bumper pay rises under NuLab and with their final salary pensions intact unlike the private sector, pass a motion at their conference demanding a 10% pay rise.

Should this quite awe-inspiring utter dislocation from reality not disbar you from being a teacher?

Monday, 13 April 2009

Updated MP Watch

Thanks for all those email contributions from others. Keep them coming....

MPs Unfit to Hold Office (by their own actions)


Ed Balls - Fiddling his expenses

Margaret Beckitt - Three homes on the taxpayer

David Borrow - Misusing Parliamentary allowances for blatant electioneering

Kevin Brennan - Making taxpayers pay his stamp duty

Gordon Brown - Utter incompetence and making the UK bankrupt

Dawn Butler - Utter incompetence and failing in her job as a whip, as well as making the taxpayer pay for a second home only 11 miles away from her own

Harry Cohen - Fiddling full ACA whilst claiming his main home is really a caravan in Colchester

Yvette Cooper - Fiddling her expenses

Alistair Darling - Stealing from the taxpayer by claiming ACA for 2nd home whilst owning another already in London

Barbara Follett - Claimed £126,952 in second home allowance since 2001 whilst renting out a flat in London, a house in South Africa and a holiday home in Antigua

Nigel Griffiths - Adultery, lying and using his taxpayer funded Commons office for sex romps

Peter Hain - ‘Forgetting' to register £100k of Deputy Leadership campaign funding

Harriet Harman - General vacuousness and financial ineptitude when running for Deputy Leader

Geoff Hoon – Using his allowances to pay for property which he in fact rented out whilst living in a grace and favour Government property

Ann Keen - Claiming double rations of expenses with her husband

Alan Keen - Claiming double rations of expenses with his wife

Ruth Kelly - Utter incompetence when a minister

David Lammy - Utterly incompetent and completely out of his depth

Michael Martin – The most incompetent and dishonest Speaker in history, as well as for fiddling his allowances to build up a property portfolio whilst living in grace and favour Speaker’s House

Tony McNulty - Stealing from the taxpayer by fiddling his expenses (ACA 2nd home for parents)

Michael Meacher - Rented out four properties in London and one in the Cotswolds while claiming £57,468 in ACA

Sion Simon - Utter incompetence and being completely out of his depth on his ministerial brief, as well as (a) making a cringe worthy spoof video of Cameron ( and then trying to defend it (, with an astonishing haircut and way too much aggression – unbelievable that this muppet is a Government minister

Jacqui Smith - Stealing from the taxpayer by fiddling her expenses (ACA for her actual family home whilst pretending to live with her sister), for incorrectly claiming for porn films for her husband (paid £40k by the taxpayer as her assistant), making taxpayers buy her a BBQ, and on, and on, and on

Tom Watson – Misusing his position as a minister by becoming embroiled in ‘McBridegate’, amongst many other evil sins

Keith Vaz - Endless dodgy behaviour and still having the brass neck to try and be taken seriously

Rudy Vis - Using allowances to buy retirement home

Shaun Woodward – Apart from being a slimy turncoat, he claimed £138,546 in ACA while renting out properties in France, New York State and the West Indies, although he and his wife Camilla, a Sainsbury heiress, own a house 200 yards from Parliament and a house in Oxfordshire


Michael Ancram - Stealing from the taxpayer to fund repainting and moss removal on his family home

James Clappison – Using his allowances to part fund his property portfolio

Alan Duncan - Claimed £143,392 in second home allowance despite owning two adjoining terrace houses in Westminster, one of which he rents to tenants

Chris Grayling - Stealing from the taxpayer by claiming ACA for a flat he rarely uses

Douglas Hogg - Rented three London properties to tenants while claiming £143,651 in ACA since 2001

Eric Pickles - Stealing from the taxpayer by claiming ACA when he clearly shouldn't (although within the rules) and arrogantly trying to justify it on Question Time

Caroline Spelman - Stealing from the taxpayer to pay for her nanny

Theresa Villiers - Making taxpayers pay her stamp duty

Lib Dems

David Howarth - Being a total Lefty wanker by attacking the police for the death of a man during the G20 riot

Charles Kennedy - Drunkenness whilst trying to be elected as Prime Minister

Mark Oaten - Bi-sexual adultery

Lembit Opik - Just for being an attention seeking prat

Sinn Fein

Gerry Adams – Stealing from the British taxpayer by claiming all his allowances whilst refusing to take his seat in Parliament

Pat Doherty - Stealing from the British taxpayer by claiming all his allowances whilst refusing to take his seat in Parliament

Conor Murphy - Stealing from the British taxpayer by claiming all his allowances whilst refusing to take his seat in Parliament

Martin McGuiness - For stealing from the British taxpayer by claiming all his allowances whilst refusing to take his seat in Parliament

Michelle Gildernew - For stealing from the British taxpayer by claiming all her allowances whilst refusing to take her seat in Parliament


Derek Conway - Out and out theft from the taxpayer to pay for his son’s university drugs, sex and rock and roll lifestyle

George Galloway - Appearing on Big Brother and impersonating a cat during Parliamentary session

Andrew Pelling - Adultery, alleged wife beating and having the arrogant effrontery to try and keep his seat

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Recess Monkey - Out of Touch?

Loving this. First line currently on Recess Monkey:

"It's not been a good week for the Tories."

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...

Labour Blog Watch - as at 0830 hrs

Those who have faced the truth:

LabourHome - calls for McBride and Draper to go (as ever leading the NuLab pack)
LabourLost - downplaying by Dripper, desperate to keep his job

Those who are non-committal:

Hopi Sen - counter attack on Guido

Those imitating an ostrich:

Alistair Campbell - nothing to say? Surely not
Chicken Yoghurt - nothing
Go Fourth - no screwed up syntax available
Kerron Cross - silent since Wednesday
Michael White - nothing to say?
Recess Monkey - classic opening line: "It's not been a good week for the Tories"
Stumbling and Mumbling - not a thing
Tom Watson - silence, strange that
Tom Harris - "having a weekend off"

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Drapergate 2 or McBridegate 1?

So the delicious story of No 10's dirty tricks department is building to its crescendo. Guido has two tasters here and here, as well as being on Sky today (so much better than the debacle on The Daily Politics, Guido, good work). The Great Iain Dale, also on Sky and BBC today, has opined as well. Dizzy has uncovered the embryonic Red Flag site and Tory Bear has made us all laugh.

Like all of us I am sure, I am salivating at the wonderful Sunday reading awaiting me. The story will unfold for the next 24 hrs in all its glory. I guess McBride will be sacked. Draper already looks as if he has been edged out. Many bloggers will chitter chatter over the next few days, but what are the lessons learnt, particularly for Dave and his incoming tribe?

1. Political parties and their politicians, like all leaders, need to have integrity. And integrity is important. You cannot command respect without it. And like virginity, once lost it can never regained.

2. As a leader, claiming you did not know what your close advisers were doing or that whilst unethical 'it's OK because it's within the rules' just won't wash with the floating vote. The tribal vote will always overlook problems, but they don't win elections.

3. If a staff member has shown a complete lack of integrity, you sack them and - here's the lesson for NuLab - never employ them again as leopards tend not to change their spots. Draper is a proven lying shit and always will be. I am sure Lord Manbypanby will blow up in their faces at some stage too. (Dave - think Jeffrey Archer, think Jonathan Aitken, think David Mellor. Don't ever go there.)

4. The politicisation of the civil service needs to be reversed. Civil servants should be neutral. Political advisers are party animals. They need to be kept entirely separate.

5. The dead tree press will forever more follow the blogosphere. It's been easy for Dave in opposition. It will be harder in Government, and he needs to think now how to keep ahead of that change.

Friday, 10 April 2009

How To...Be A Successful Politician

Do you remember Client 9? He was the high flying New York Governor, Eliot Spitzer, who campaigned against prostitution and then...was actually found to be one of the best customers of one of most infamous escort services in NY. Well he appears to be the latest exponent of the art of managing a successful political comeback. See him here earlier this week on MSNBC:

Unbelievable. The neck on this bastard. Having been proven to be a serial liar and total fucking hypocrite, he thinks he can worm his way back into mainstream politics.

This got me to thinking: what is the basic skillset you actually need as a modern day politician to be able to withstand the 24/7 media and blogosphere onslaught. Answer: supreme arrogance coupled with no shame.

In yesteryear, John Profumo and the like crawled off the stage and devoted the rest of their life to good charitable deeds in order to rehabilitate themselves quietly in the shadows of society.

Nowadays, in our me, me, me, I deserve everything, celeb obsessed society, there is no slinking off, no days in the wilderness, the bastards just brazen it out using the following steps:

1. Deny (see if you can get away with it)
2. Admit (with exclusive media interview)
3. Apologise (remembering to not write 'sorry' on your hand)
4. Photo op with partner (if relevant)
5. Keep going as you are (and get the next expenses claim in)

Think it through: Mark Oaten, Andrew Pelling, David Blunket, Lord Manbypanby, Jacqui Smith, Eric Pickles et al.

How awful is this world. Off to kill myself.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Bogus Research

I have for some time admired The Devil's campaign. (Just wish he'd get a logo so I can put it on my blog!)

But this week, I have been enraged by some astounding bogus research by so-called charities.

First, child poverty. According to Dr Banardos yesterday, "there are currently 3.9 million children living in poverty in the UK, and that's almost a third of all children". WTF? Now I know I drive fast, but as I have flashed through 'sarf' London avoiding the poor people, I have not noticed hordes of pot bellied children covered in flies on every street corner.

No, Dr B's are using NuLab maths, as approved by our triple counting wanker of a PM. If you bother to hit Dr B's website there is a page entitled 'What is Poverty'. In short, this is a page of spin subverting mathematics so they can get to a truly shockingly large number. (I have written previously about how to run a fake campaign and use fake maths, here).

There are not 3 million children in poverty in the UK. These do-gooding fuckwits need to get out more. Suggestion: try visiting Africa, Asia and South America. Those are the odd shaped bits on the map past Islington and further on south of Tuscany.

Second, glass ceilings. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (aka the taxpayer funded evil empire of Trevor Phillips) has today pumped out this, which tells us that:

a. Women earn up to 60% less than men in the finance sector
b. 28% of those working in professional occupations in the sector are women, compared with 42% in the economy as a whole
c. 11% of senior managers are women, compared to 28% in the economy as a whole

OMG, how I am bored with this PC bleating about the glass ceiling. Time for some reality:

Obvious Point 1 - The average age of a director of a City business is around the 50-60 yrs mark, meaning that they would have been entering the City market roughly in 1969-79.

Obvious Point 2 - There were many fewer women entering this market in those days. Things have now changed, but then, much much fewer. (Let's be bold. 30% of the total?)

Obvious Point 3 - It is safe to say that the overwhelming majority of this already comparatively small female cohort went off and had babies. (OK so now let's be conservative. 75% of that original 30%?)

Obvious Point 4 - The majority of this now dwindling number will never have returned to the workplace. (What do you think? 90% non-returns?)

Obvious Point 5 - A small percentage of this now severely reduced number will have rejoined but, after some years out of the market, will have been out of date and will therefore inevitably have suffered in their comparative promotion prospects as compared to their male counterparts.

So on these guesstimates, which I think you'd agree have been cautious, this means that in the 50-60 yrs age range, 10% of the City workforce will now be women. But only 7.5% will have had uninterrupted careers.

Now of course not everyone is good enough to be a board director, but if your talent pool is only 7.5-10% of the workforce, frankly it is amazing that we have any females at the top of any of our City businesses right now. As we go forward, then this will change, but it will be slow and always disproportionate because - and here's a really important point, Trevor - girls have babies and boys don't, you fuckwit.

But of course this obvious maths simply doesn't fit with the trendy, PC, NuLab, bleeding heart, anti-poverty, pro-wimmin dogma of the Left.

I Love the Devil

Iain Dale says that Alice Miles' recent article in The Times was "the most eloquent exposition" so far in defence of MPs and their remuneration.

The Devil takes a brilliant, funny and irreverent counter view. A must read.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The Latest Lib Dem Bandwagon

So the moronic Loony Dems are jumping on the bandwagon of the death of a newspaper seller on the sidelines of the G20 violence, calling for a criminal inquiry. Of course our illustrious media are fanning the flames: questions must be asked, is this the face of unacceptable policing, cop violence etc...

Time for some facts:

Fact 1 - The guy in question was in the way of the police clearing a street during a day of mass rioting. They pushed him. He fell. He later had a heart attack. Unfortunate. Were the police responsible for his heart attack? No.

Fact 2 - Should the police have pushed him? Yes. That's what riot police do. They push people out of the way to clear streets.

Fact 3 - WTF was he doing there anyway? I closed our London office for the day and made staff work from home so that they could not get caught up in any problems. Anyone who was stupid enough to be wandering around the City of London during a riot was playing with fire. Idiot.

Fact 4 - At moments of mass public disorder, society asks individual civil servants - be they policemen or soldiers - to make split second decisions whilst in the middle of total madness, always with only scraps of information available at that immediate moment - aka the 'fog of war'. Sometimes these decisions, made in a fraction of a second, can mean life or death.

Fact 5 - These split second decisions are then poured over for days, weeks, months and years by those who want to make political capital out of the incident, their lawyers and of course the asswipes of the media who just want a 'Shock! Horror!' story.

Fact 6 - As a society, we ask these civil servants to behave in a legal, level headed way in totally out of control circumstances. They will inevitably make mistakes. And as a society, we owe these civil servants our absolute support, even when they make mistakes resulting in loss of life.

Society has imprisoned soldiers who in a split second made a wrong decision whilst fighting for their lives in Northern Ireland. Society has bleated on and on about collateral damage or friendly fire in Iraq and Afghanistan. Society has wanked on about the Brazilian electrician slotted by mistake the day after 7/7.

We are asking ordinary people to do absolutely extraordinary things in totally mad, highly stressful and very frightening circumstances. We should always support them.

Anyone who wants to cast the first stone - yes, you David Howarth, you Lib Dem wank pot, prostituting yourself for a few votes - should spend half a day on the front line wearing a flat cap and a DayGlo vest being bottled in central London by a mob of half drunk, half drugged up anarchists.

Update: OMG, it gets worse. The BBC are leading their bulletins with this story. The Today programme on R4 just had David Howarth on. His smug, sanctimoniousness was bowl evacuating in its stupidity. He claimed the police 'shoved' the newspaper seller. Not just 'shoved', an evil crime in itself, but he then added that they 'shoved him hard'.




They were riot police. Policing a riot. Clearing a street. What do you think they were going to do? Write him a love letter?

What David Howarth did not mention:

1. WTF the newspaper seller was doing in the City in the middle of a riot in the first place?
2. WTF the anarchists were doing there at all?
3. The incredible restraint the police showed all day long.

This is politicking at its worst.

This man, who apparently aspires to be a Government Home Office minister, is not fit to lick the sweaty ass of any policeman in this country.

Why We’re In the Shit

Daily Referendum has a devastating analysis of why we're in the shit, copied below:

Gordon Brown - Lecturer
Paul Murphy - Lecturer
John Hutton - Lecturer
Lord Mandelson - Career Politician
David Miliband - Career Politician
Jim Murphy - Career Politician
Douglas Alexander - Career Politician
Ed Miliband - Career Politician
John Denham - Career Politician
Jack Straw - Barrister
Alistair Darling - Solicitor
Hazel Blears - Solicitor
Harriet Harman - Solicitor
Geoff Hoon - Lecturer/Barrister
James Purnell - Researcher
Shaun Woodward - Researcher
Andy Burnham - Researcher
Yvette Cooper - Researcher
Jacqui Smith - Teacher
Alan Johnson - Postman
Hilary Benn - Unionist
Ed Balls - Journalist

No wonder. Just the mix of professional experience you need in any Cabinet to deal with a global recession.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

NuLab Chickens Beginning to Roost

Two interesting articles in the FT today: here and here.

Point 1 - I predicted this back in February. If you shit on high earners (for example, bankers) and attack their market competitive pay, they bugger off to a company who will pay them the market rate. Think what that might mean for taxpayer owned Lloyds, HBOS, RBS, NatWest, etc…

Point 2 - The top 1% of British earners pay 23% of tax. Reduce their pay significantly and HMRC is cannibalising its own income, purely for political, gallery playing ends.

Point 3 – High earners are internationally very mobile. They move to the best tax regime; think 1970s Britain, the so-called brain drain etc...

All you NuLab luvvies and St Obama cocksuckers might want to remember these three facts the next time you mistake your ‘politics of jealously’ for a reason to attack high earners.

The Variable Value of Life

2001 - The events of 9/11 (a moment in history which even has its own name) killed just under 3000 Americans. The world stopped. Wars were waged. The aftermath will impact on global geopolitics for generations.

2009 - The Italian earthquake killed around 180 Italians. The BBC flew news teams to the earthquake site for News at 10 that night. Wall to wall media coverage will go on for some days.

2003 - An earthquake hit Bam, a city in Iran. Over 26,000 Iranians died with more than 30,000 injured. I'll say that again: over 26,000 people died with 30,000 injured. Minor mention on the news for a couple of days. The world didn't stop. No wall to wall media coverage.

It would appear society, governments and the media ascribe a higher value and newsworthiness to the lives of different nationalities.

Chip and Pinning Your ID Away

Chip and Pin likely to be inbound for ID cards we are told today.

For eight years of my life I carried an ID card. It was a forces ID card and incredibly useful. I could instantly prove my identity, long before photo ID driving licences existed which now do that job admirably.

So I joined the debate about ID cards pretty much in favour, absolutely seeing the arguments that (a) it would help crack down on benefit fraud which costs the taxpayer billions each year and (b) that law abiding people have nothing to fear and much to gain. Frankly, I needed to be convinced that it would have any positive impact on terrorism.

I am now adamantly opposed to ID cards. Why? Principally for three reasons.

Mission Creep

First, any Government scheme or law change ends up ‘mission creeping’ itself to an illiberal end, proving what used to be called the ‘thin end of the wedge’ argument. A case in point:

Then - In 2000, NuLab told us the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act was needed to tackle terrorism in the UK.

Now - In 2009, local councils have used this piece of anti-terrorism legislation an average of 25,000 in the last five years to in fact chase dog foulers, parents manipulating school catchment boundaries, people putting out rubbish incorrectly etc...

Now - NuLab tell us we need ID cards to combat terrorism.

Future - What do you think will happen once NuLab mission creep sets in? Minor transgressors of local bylaws will be targeted by overzealous officialdom for totally pathetic offences?

Government incompetence

Second, the constant stream of stories that tumble out of Government about data security, or lack of it: flash sticks lost on trains, laptops stolen, external consultants losing discs, info going astray in the post. It just goes on and on. These highlight Government’s arrogant and lazy attitude to personal data. With all the hoo-ha that each story brings, we see no real attempt by Government to stop this chaos.

I just no longer think Government can be trusted to hold personal data and the idea of giving them my total identity in the future (photo, finger print, retina scan etc) as well as potentially making ID cards ‘smart cards’ that can store health records, cash, chip and pin et al fills me with dread.


It seems that no serious anti-crime organisation, apart from Jacqui Smith’s Home Office, has produced a single weighty argument that ID cards will actually have any measurable affect on terrorism. Thus, the main justification used by the Government simply holds no water.

Join the campaign:

Monday, 6 April 2009

Culling Politicians

With reference to my suggested changes to Parliamentary allowances (see here), we have some good news.

No, not that the cheeky bastards last week gave themselves a bigger rise than the rest of the public sector.

Nor that London MPs 'London supplement' has gone from around £3k to £7.5k.

(Just absolutely incredible that both these changes can occur amidst the current public outrage over MPs pay and allowances).

No, the good news is that we have 1312 less politicians in this country. Wahooo! Well, it's a start isn't it.

Interesting campaign a friend alerted me to: The campaign's 'statement of intent' is as follows:

" is a new campaigning website that has been created in an attempt to highlight and improve declining standards of newspaper journalism in the UK.

"We believe that the implementation of a few simple law changes will ensure greater press responsibility and accountability, therefore integrity.

"We believe in freedom of the press but have grave reservations concerning corporate media concentration and the lack of varied dissenting voices holding power accountable.

"We believe we are witnessing clear agenda driven journalism in the UK, clearly sensationalist, unbalanced, unfair and often malicious.

"We believe independent regulation is now a must, not self-regulation or governmental control.

"We believe in an automatic right of reply for all citizens misrepresented by the press in the UK, as libel proceedings should not only be a preserve of those who can afford it.

"We believe the size of any apology or correction should be of the same size and same prominence as the lie.

"We believe there is a crisis of trust in the print media in the UK. This must be addressed now as our human rights and our democracy is suffering as a consequence.

"We intend on getting the British Public interested and involved in debating, current media issues.

"We believe that by raising awareness of newspaper’s ethical responsibilities and promoting a two-way interactive system whereby the general public are able to police declining standards of print journalism themselves we will be able to remind corporate media organisations of their civic responsibilities and begin to improve standards."

Don't know who's behind it but I can't disagree with much of that.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Our Balanced Media

Sunday Times - MPs claim stamp duty on expenses

Mail on Sunday - We buy Jacqui Smith a new BBQ and MPs' New Zealand junket

News of the World - Peter Robinson sucks the taxpayer dry

Sunday Express - Hoon on the fiddle

Observer - Nothing

Sunday Mirror- Nothing

Even the Independent covers the Hoon story

A balanced media. The bulwark of democracy.

NuLab Spin Watch

G20 £1.1 trillion - Which turned out to be almost all reheated previous announcements.

Less stigma for IMF bailout - Mandelson and Timms preparing the ground for Brown's IMF begging bowl.

Treasury got it wrong - Darling preparing ground for a truly horrible budget.

Campbell, Balls, Whelan, Draper may have moved on but old habits die hard.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Taxpayer Madness

Man in a Shed gets it in one. Utter madness. At the expense of the taxpayer.

Jade Reality Check

I wrote this about the death of David Cameron's son. It just as well applies to Jade Goody.

Today will be nauseating. First, the people who made Goody - the tabloid, red top media and the lower end of the TV spectrum - will gush with faux tears about her demise. We will breathlessly follow the funeral all day. Again, the media making money out of an unwitting fool.

Second, celebs and politicos will all queue up to wax lyrical about "how special she was", "how wonderful she was", "what a brilliant ambassador she was" etc. Nauseating.

Third, the media will cry pity tears for Jack Tweedy, "how brave he's been", "how he was her rock", "how much he loved her" etc. Puke.

Perspective: as sad as any death is, particularly a young person's, this happens every day in every town all over the country. All over the world. No one cries for them.

Goody was in fact famous for being just incredibly stupid and for milking her 15 minutes of fame by doing anything, however debasing - including while blind drunk pushing a wine bottle up herself on live TV. Tweedy is a convicted felon, currently tagged, who is shortly to go to court on another charge.

These are not role models. They do not deserve adulation.

Update: Apparently it was not Goody who performed the wine bottle routine. It was another Z list called 'Kinga', whoever she was.

The Old Disease: Scape-goat-itis

I'm terribly confused about the global recession.

Our illustrious PM assured us repeatedly it was all America's fault with all that sub prime madness. Or though, he didn't seem too keen to repeat this when Nick Robinson asked him about that view in one of the many Gordo and Obamo press conferences over the last few days. Now he seems to be sucking off St Obama every other nanosecond.

OK so not America, really it was those evil bankers seeking fat cat bonuses through reckless lending. Oh and in particular that nasty Mr Fred Goodwin (boo, hiss, stone him). All out for themselves, the bastards. Seize their bonuses. Sequester their pensions. Sell their wives and children.

But now the blame caravan seems to have moved on once again. Now - and forgive me as I have missed the logic here - the G20, who are all led brilliantly by the able and wise Mr Brown, have fingered those evil, Nazi sheltering, international crime riddled tax havens. So naughty have they been in fact we're going and shame them (oooh, awful, how will they cope with the shame).

Just remind me. When exactly did tax havens create the global recession? Was I asleep or something? I'm pretty sure that if they were responsible that nice, balanced and unexcitable Robert Peston would have been whining about it every night for weeks.

No, as ever, the politicians are (a) looking for their latest scapegoat and (b) using the cover of unrelated announcements to roll out their own political dogma.

What exactly have tax havens done? They have operated within the law to assist people pay less tax legally. So nothing wrong so far, then.

Remind me. Who sets the law within which they operate? Oh yes, it's those sanctimonious wankers who want to blame them and curtail their totally legal activities. Let's just recap. The recession was caused by:

1. Too lax a system of government regulation within which banks operated.

2. This allowed them to lend too easily, thus stoking up markets, and the residential market in particular, to crazy, totally unsustainable levels of growth.

3. They also lent too easily to people who could not afford the loans.

4. In fact, governments pushed banks to lend to poorer people so they could boast that they were "attacking social injustice" and "creating social mobility".

5. And just to add incompetence on top of imprudence, governments - ours in particular - built up their own unaffordable debt burden to carry out all their social engineering policies. The regulators had gone native.

6. When the cycle changed, as it always does, there were too many debts, not enough cash and hence recession.

7. Despite Gordy's ridiculously hollow boasts, we are worse off than most and well into IMF territory - according to the IMF - because during the good years NuLab spent more than it earned. Put simply, we were already up to our national overdraft when our tax income began to collapse.

So not America, then. Not actually bankers, who all operated within the laws set by governments. And not really tax havens, who frankly played no actual role in the debacle at all.

In fact, it was shoddy government regulation.

Huh. Haven't heard the brilliant Mr Brown opine much about that, have we?

Wonder who the next scapegoat will be?

Friday, 3 April 2009

Trust and Privacy; Lost Forever

Trust is like virginity: once lost, it can never be regained.

So the recent poll for the Bar Standards Board is grim reading for certain professions. Guess which ones. Well, in ascending order of trust:

1% - Politicians and estate agents
2% - Bankers
3% - Journalists
13% - Barristers
14% - Accountants
17% - Solicitors

57% said they trusted none of them.

Jacqui Smith, Tony McNulty, Nigel Giffiths, Eric Pickles, Caroline Spelman et al might want to ruminate on why politicians come at the very bottom.

My quip about virginity is true for privacy too. And we seem to be breaching sensible norms on this as well, as evidenced by the attack on a Google Street View photo team yesterday.

There is so much wrong with our society.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Final Word on MPs' Pay and Rations

Even I am now almost bored of the debate surrounding the thieving by MPs of taxpayers' cash. I think this will be my last post on this for a while, unless some new exposé stings me into action. I have read two interesting blog posts by others on the subject:

British Dude has an interesting article by JackArt. He makes some very good points, for example:

"The (current) rules achieve two ends... first they create a culture of entitlement amongst MPs, which is corrupting; and they poison the wellspring of debate, and they seriously reduce confidence in the political process."

He goes on:

"Unfortunately MPs have been allowed to appear to profit from a badly designed system. This is the New Labour way - design something in haste in response to the Baying mob, and then leave it half done."


"This is wasting time, energy and bile on a few quid for some porn, when it should be focusing on the real crime committed by MPs: failure to hold the executive to account over the savage assault on our civil liberties and the profligate waste of taxpayers' money on spurious "stimulus" packages by a government who is more interested in scorching the earth ahead of a Tory victory than actually "saving" the economy."

Where I differ with him is here:

"I am not interested in MPs expenses. I couldn't care less if an MP was enriching himself at our expense. Trying to stop money flowing to power is futile and pointless, and one shouldn't even try."

There is an important issue of principle here. Leaders must have integrity to be respected. We elect these guys to lead our Government, to lead our country to represent us at an international level. If they lose our respect because of their actions, either by doing stupid stuff or filling their pockets with our cash, then we should call that to account.

Nor do I agree with this:

"The idea that they only work when in Westminster is just laughable, and demonstrates profound, and frankly willfully chippy ignorance."

Some work hard. Some work less hard. And some are just fucking lazy, whether that is in Westminster or their constituency. I have seen this from the inside in a previous life. With virtually no scrutiny, there is a considerable cohort who do the absolute minimum and milk their over-generous allowances.

I also disagree with this:

"...if they are not paid appropriately, genuine corruption (altering the governance of the land in return for money) becomes more common. Like it or not, the kind of corruption common at the top of, say, the Italian system is rare here. £60-odd grand a year is not big money for a legislature..."

JackArt is right that in that UK political corruption almost does not exist. It's in the 0.00% range, unlike many of our European cousins who are all up to it. (Little aside - when working within the European Parliament many years ago, a few office doors down from me, there was a Greek MEP who never turned up ever and in fact rented his own European Parliament Brussels office - with all its facilities, free phone, free fax, free meeting space etc - to a Greek lobbying company! Un-fucking-believable.)

But here's the point: £65k in UK employment terms is a lot of money. It may seem like small beer for some of us who are doing well, but it's 2.5 times the national average wage. On just salary alone, MPs cost the taxpayer £42 million pa. Add to that MPs' expenses of another £93 million pa, and then pensions and so on and MPs direct costs add up to the thick end of £200 million. That is a number that needs public scrutiny and control. What other group of civil servants votes itself £200 million pa of taxpayers' cash to spend on themselves as they see fit?

And I have a problem with this:

"Removing "office" costs from MPs individual expenses will cost vastly more as any incentive to keep this down (the embarrassment of declaring it personally) will be removed."

I agree but this is not the best solution. Better to give them an allowance (I have previously suggested £75k rather than the overgenerous £100k as now) and let them spend it all if they want. The point is that it should be paid direct from Parliament to the named support staff, rather than go via MPs' pockets for them to fiddle.

Another problem is this:

"Removing any second homes allowance will necessitate a higher salary to enable the supporting of two homes."

Absolute rot. Give them a per diem or overnight allowance. They can do what they want with it: buy a flat, rent a flat, use hotels. That's up to them. But only pay them for the nights they actually spend in London on Parliamentary business. Viz salaries, see my comment above. Too many commentators are suggesting - egged on by MPs staring down the barrels of losing their fat 2nd home allowance - that MPs will need a pay rise. No other fucker in the UK is getting a pay rise right now. Quite the opposite. We're all down-sizing, many into having no job at all! Time for MPs to down-size too, and if that means getting rid of that nice 2nd home, paid for by the taxpayer, so be it.

And this point needs some comment:

"Any centrally owned flats for MPs will be more expensive than simply allowing a bit of mortgage interest."

This suggestion has been circulating in the media and on blogs for a few days. It is mad! Barking mad. What better way to waste more taxpayers' money than to fund a special hotel for MPs! Can you imagine how this budget would spiral out of control. Remember Portcullis House? The Scottish Parliament? The Welsh Assembly building? Incredible that anyone would suggest such a stupid thing when all they need is to join the real world and have a per diem or overnight allowance.

I find Luke Akehurst's view on almost anything very annoying, in the 'it's so irritating when those whose views you dislike often say something interesting and sensible' vein. His post on MPs' pay and allowances is part good and part bad:

The good:

"The basic salary MPs get is a good one compared to the vast majority of the population but derisory -even taking into account discounting it for an aspect of voluntarism/public service - compared to jobs of equivalent seniority (and in the case of Ministers scary levels of responsibility) - including the salaries of the newspaper editors getting sniffy about them."

And this:

"MPs need to grow up and stop pretending they can live the lifestyle of someone far better paid whilst publicly appearing to have a salary of only £64k. If they want the better lifestyle they need to accept the scrutiny that will come from having a salary proportionately bigger. Otherwise they should learn to live on £64k, which after all sounds like megabucks to over 90% of the population.

"They also need to take a good long look at their consciences and ask if the tax payer really ought to be paying for 88p bath plugs or £700 stereos. Whatever the rules say, I'd feel queasy and morally sullied if I claimed for either. The question they should ask themselves is "this will end up in the public domain by one means or another, how would a reasonable elector in my constituency view this use of their tax money?"

But Luke goes off message badly:

"The vast bulk of the headline "expenses" figures quoted in the press are not expenses at all - they are staff pay. When non-MPs fill in expenses claims at work we don't add a section for the pay of the staff that work for us....Most of the rest is legitimate - is anyone seriously saying MPs should pay for travel on parliamentary business, their office IT equipment or postage costs for casework letters out of their personal salaries?"

Luke, my dear Lefty, you miss the point: first, their allowances are overly-generous and second, they fiddle the fuckers and keep the cash for themselves - aka theft in every other walk of life.

This too is just wrong:

"MPs need a second home because we expect them to live half the week in their constituency and half in London. If a non-MP had an employer who expected us to live away from home half the week we'd expect to be able to claim the accommodation and subsistence on expenses."

No, Luke. For possibly 183 days this year, they need an allowance for staying in central London, not for the taxpayer to help them start a property portfolio.

Luke's conclusion badly misses the point:

"I would suggest that a quick solution is to find a "public sector comparator" - the Civil Service is an obvious one - and put MPs onto exactly the same expenses regime as the equivalent public servants, and allocate them to one of the civil service pay scales so their annual increments, pensions etc. are transparently linked to it, with Cabinet Ministers earning the same as the Permanent Secretary who reports to them."

The solution is to take control of the setting, administration and policing of their pay and allowances away from them. Poachers don't make good gamekeepers.

But I guess we all know what's going to happen. My prediction:

ACA goes. Overnight allowance comes in. MPs get pay rise.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Norman Tebbit Shocker...or is it!

I'm not sure what shocked me more in this article about Norman 'Mad Dog' Tebbit allegedly signing up as a non-exec of a lobbying company. Was it:

a. This: "Zeitgeist founder Steve Prail told PRWeek: ‘We’re delighted to have Norman on board. Few people are better connected to the Conservative leadership".

b. This: "It is understood that Prail and Lofo begun talks with Tebbit after meeting at Annabel’s, the exclusive nightclub in Berkeley Square, which is said to be a favourite haunt of Tebbit’s. The two lobbyists were introduced by former Labour cabinet minister David Blunkett - a close personal friend of Tebbit..."We were in our booth with David and a mystery blonde when Norman wandered over with Andy Coulson [Tory communications director]. We sealed the deal there and then."

c. Or this: "Prail said that Tebbit would introduce his clients to key members of the shadow cabinet. He specifically referred to the ‘key influencers’ who will draw up the Tory manifesto, notably the shadow schools secretary Michael Gove and the chairman of the policy review, Oliver Letwin."

Until I remembered that it was April Fool's Day.


So I have blogged about the G20 and summits before. I am so sick and tired of the breathlessly gushing wall to wall coverage over the last few days, I cannot add much more than I have written before:


"Fresh from his cheesily pathetic attempt to achieve some reflected glory from St Obama a few weeks ago, now standby for some truly teeth-sucking, butt-clenching G20 awfulness that will be all about Gordy desperately trying to look statesman-like, surrounded by wall to wall NuLab spin with their media pet poodles lapping it up. Ghastly."


"If there is one certain rule in life, it is this: when politicians announce a 'summit' or a 'tour of the country', you know that:

a. they're in the shit

b. that means that we poor proles are in the shitter with them

c. they have absolutely no idea how to get out of the shit, and

d. they are desperate to be seen to do something to deflect attention from c above."

Celebrity Madness

The just ridiculous media wankathon that is the coverage of St Obama is not unlike the complete madness that descended on them at the time of Princess Diana’s death and subsequent funeral. He is not God, guys. He is the President currently in charge of a fucked economy.

Likewise, the appointment of Alan Shearer as manager of Newcastle today. And for that matter, Martin Johnson as England rugby manager. Neither have ever managed anything but have celeb player status.

To illustrate how totally stupid this is, imagine taking Robert Peston and appointing him as BBC director general, or Mathew Parris and appointing him as CEO of News International. It’s amazing how the cult or religion of celebrity is now invading every part of national life.

Everything you need to know about the state of how celeb crazed our society now is, can be summarised by this: the first photos of Wayne and Coleen Rooney’s first child, due in the autumn, are apparently worth £1 million according to London Life last night.

Pathetic and unbelievable.